Choosing a resort was always the hardest part when I planned a Disney World vacation. Now I have stayed at most of the Disney World Resorts and can choose my resort easily. I would love to help you easily decide the best resort for you and your family.
Choosing a resort to stay in during your next Walt Disney World vacation can be an overwhelming decision. With so many different resorts and categories, it’s all about finding the option that fits your budget and needs.
If you can’t decide between a value, moderate, or deluxe resort for your next trip, we’re here to help you get one step closer to picking your next vacation resort.
Today, I’m going to look at all of the Walt Disney World resorts by their Tier and ask you a few questions about what is important to you. Whether you want a value, moderate, or deluxe resort for your next stay, I’ve covered you with our comprehensive resort guide.
Guide to picking the best Disney resort for your next vacation
How To Choose Your Disney Resort
The biggest factor when choosing your Walt Disney World resort for your vacation is your budget. What time of year you choose to go makes a big difference on cost and may inflate these numbers. These are the average cost ranges for a standard room to help you decide which tier is right for you.
Value Resorts – Average cost is $150 – $300 a night for a standard room.
Moderate Resorts – Average Cost is $200 – $400 a night for a standard room.
Deluxe Resorts – Average Cost is $400 – $1000 a night for a standard room.
If none of these tiers work with your budget, consider staying off property.
How Much Time Are You Going to Spend in the Room?
When it comes to deciding between the Walt Disney World resort categories, one of the first considerations should be how much time you are going to spend in the resort. While some visitors will always stay in the same resort category, if you are going to be in the parks all day, you may feel a deluxe resort is not worth the expense.
The deluxe resorts offer extensive facilities and beautiful swimming pools for relaxing. If you’re not going to spend any time in your room or resort, you might want to consider saving money by opting for a value or moderate resort. These resorts still offer great Disney-themed rooms and amenities without the price tag of the deluxe resorts.
If you don’t want to spend much time in the room, check out the Value Resorts now.
As you go up the Disney resort categories, your dining choices improve significantly. If dining is a huge part of your vacation, you may consider staying at some of the most popular deluxe resorts.
For dining, we love Disney’s Boardwalk Resort, Polynesian Village Resort, and the Animal Kingdom Lodge, all of which offer unique dining options. After a busy day at the parks, returning and enjoying a relaxed table-service meal in your resort is the perfect way to end the day.
To figure out which deluxe resort is best for you, you can head to the deluxe resort section now.
However, if your family is happy dining at a quick-service location daily, you may be content with a value resort. If Deluxe resorts do not fit into your budget you can always stay at a value resort and hop over to a deluxe resort at meal times.
If you are ready for the value resort section you can head there now.
For families traveling with younger children, immersing them in Disney-themed activities is often the top priority. For a complete Disney experience, we recommend the value resorts, especially the Art of Animation Resort.
Young children will love seeing their favorite characters from Finding Nemo, The Little Mermaid, The Lion King, and Cars and staying in a room themed after one of these movies. Alternatively, Port Orleans Riverside offers the Royal Guest Rooms, which are themed after The Princess and the Frog.
Each resort offers its unique amenities, so you’ll want to decide what’s most important to you for your family’s vacation. Amenities like a fitness center, beaches, boat rentals, sports activities, arcades and more can sway your decision.
If your kids love to swim every day, we recommend staying at the Yacht or Beach Club Resorts, which share Stormalong Bay.
This three-acre pool complex is undoubtedly the best on property and is almost like a mini water park in your resort. For a unique vacation, stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, where you can wake up every morning and watch the giraffes and animals who call this resort home from your balcony.
For a truly luxurious stay, the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa appeals to guests of all ages and is considered the property’s flagship resort.
Which Disney Resort is Best for First Timers?
What are the Best Disney World Resort Pools?
What are the Best Disney World Resorts for Easy Access to the Theme Parks?
The Deluxe resorts have the easiest access to the theme parks. Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club, Boardwalk Inn, and the Swan & Dolphin are closest to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios. Animal Kingdom Lodge is closest to Animal Kingdom. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney’s Polynesian, and Disney’s Contemporary Resort are closest to Magic Kingdom.
What are the Best Disney World Resorts for Large Families?
Your party size will have a big impact on the resort you opt for, and if you are traveling with more than four people, you’ll want to consider looking at resorts that offer family suites or larger accommodations.
The Art of Animation Resort and All-Star Music Resort both offer family suites, which sleep up to six people but are still generally quite affordable for larger groups.
Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground is a fun option for larger families, where you can stay in a rustic cabin in the woods. Finally, consider the Deluxe Villas for a larger party, where you can choose from one-, two-, and three-bedroom villas.
These are available in the Disney Vacation Club resorts, but you don’t have to be a DVC member to stay in these rooms.
Of course, your budget will probably be the final consideration for your Walt Disney World stay. You’ll want to take the time to consider the packages and deals available to your family when it’s time to book your vacation.
Wherever you choose to stay, all of the Walt Disney World resorts offer fantastic service levels and a wonderful experience to immerse you in the magic of this vacation destination completely.
What Are The 3 Levels Of Disney World Resort Hotels?
Disney resorts fall into three levels or categories: value resorts, moderate resorts, and deluxe resorts. Deluxe resorts also have villas and club-level options to consider.
Disney Value Resorts $
The Disney Value resort category is a good option for families traveling on a budget. While staying at Disney is certainly not a cheap option, these resorts do make it more affordable for large families and groups.
These resorts have bold themes and rooms, ideal for families with younger children. Expect large swimming pools and quick-service dining locations but fewer recreation and sit-down opportunities.
Disney’s Art of Animation
The Art of Animation is taking the number one position in the value category. This is one of our favorite resorts on-site for families with young children and offers various room options.
Art of Animation has standard rooms in The Little Mermaid section. There are also family suites themed around The Lion King, Finding Nemo, and Cars. The family suites have a master bedroom and two bathrooms within the unit.
The suites can sleep up to six people; they are a good value compared to purchasing two separate rooms. However, remember that these certainly make staying here more costly than expected.
As far as the resort’s theme goes, you’ll find Disney touches everywhere you look. There are multiple themed pools, which are very large to accommodate the number of people staying here.
The modern food court and shopping area are great for quick meals. Finally, one of the best reasons to book a stay here is the addition of the Skyliner transportation system. This means getting to Hollywood Studios or Epcot is even quicker and easier than before, and it’s a great perk for a value resort to have.
This resort is also one of the Pet-Friendly Disney Hotels if you want to bring your dog with you on your next vacation.
Disney’s Pop Century Resort
This is our favorite value resort for adults or couples looking to enjoy Disney on a budget. You’ll find that the rooms here have been recently renovated.
You’ll enjoy a large food court and multiple swimming pools. Kids will still enjoy the Disney touches found throughout the resort and the larger-than-life decorations it is so well known for.
Disney’s All-Star Resort
There are three All-Star Resort Hotels: All-Star Music, All-Star Movies, and All-Star Sports. Out of the three All-Star resorts, Music has to be my favorite.
It’s a good choice for adults and families and offers some of the cheapest hotel rates in Walt Disney World. This part of the resort attracts fewer large groups than the other All-Star resorts, making the pools and dining area quieter.
The other two value resorts you might consider staying in are All-Star Sports and All-Star Movies. They offer accommodations and facilities similar to that of All-Star Music, with different themes based on the one you choose.
You’ll find that All-Star Movies has large swimming pools, a great food court, and standard rooms that offer all of the amenities you’d need to visit the parks. Many people find they spend no time in their resort, and if that’s what you imagine will happen on your next trip, this would be a good choice for you.
You’ll find these have some great deals in comparison to the other Disney resorts, and it can be easy to find availability when you book a last-minute trip. For anyone who is planning to spend no time at all in their room, it’s a great way to save money on your next Walt Disney World adventure.
All three All-Star Resort Hotels have just been renovated. These rooms are typically the cheapest but also my least favorite. Prepare for long lines for buses most of the day.
Disney Moderate Resorts $$
If you fancy upgrading your stay at Walt Disney World a little bit, consider the moderate category. These resorts are great for adults on a budget looking for a quieter resort with a few more amenities.
All moderate resorts have slides at the pool. You will also find sit-down dining options at all of the moderate resorts. You will still find families at the moderate resorts, but they tend to be quieter than the value resorts.
This is how we would rank the Disney Moderate resorts when booking a stay.
Read More: Best Moderate Resorts at Disney World Ranked
Disney’s Port Orleans Resort
Port Orleans has two resorts: Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside and Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter. It’s one of our favorite resorts in Walt Disney World for couples and adults.
French Quarter is attached to Port Orleans Riverside, but it’s the smaller and more intimate part of the resort. You’ll find one swimming pool here and a quick-service dining location.
When staying here, don’t miss out on the delicious beignets that the resort is well-known for. If you enjoy walking, you’ll love strolling around this resort and admiring the beautiful view over the river.
One of the best perks of staying here is the boat to Disney Springs, which gives you a unique transportation option for your next vacation. Port Orleans Riverside is also pet-friendly and a great place to bring your dog. We brought our dog Walt with us when we stayed here.
We would happily stay in any moderate resort at Walt Disney World. Port Orleans Riverside is connected to Port Orleans French Quarter but is a little larger than the other resort. It’s a good option for families due to the numerous pools and various recreation options on offer.
Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort
Caribbean Beach is one of the longest-running resorts on the property. It now has the benefit of the Disney Skyliner transportation, as the hub for this transport option is based at this resort.
We recently stayed at Carribean Beach Resort and enjoyed our visit. The room was average and wasn’t our favorite, but we were close to Riviera, which let us snag a last-minute Toppolinos reservation.
We also enjoyed the Coke Freestyle Machines being in the buildings so we didn’t have to walk up front to refill the refillable mugs. This was so convenient and I would stay here again just for that perk.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and Gran Destino Tower
It’s a tough choice for third place in the moderate category, but we’ve awarded it to Coronado Springs. The recent addition of the Gran Destino Tower has upgraded this resort, and its rooms and facilities are comparable to those in the deluxe category.
The resort is a lakeside American Southwest-themed resort with plenty of great restaurants and swimming pools for families to enjoy. Rooms here contain all of the standard amenities of a moderate resort.
It’s known for having added extra facilities at the resort due to it also being a conference center. For those looking to upgrade their stay, definitely consider the Gran Destino Tower, which also offers club-level rooms.
Fort Wilderness Cabins
When looking at the moderate resort category, you might overlook Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort. However, the cabins here are the top option in this category for larger families.
You’ll find that the cabins sleep up to six adults, with one queen bed and a set of bunk beds in separate rooms. The resort itself is perfect for anyone who is looking to plan a unique Disney trip.
You’ll find that you are immersed in nature with your cabin in the woods. We find this accommodation option great for anyone looking to save money on a Disney trip without camping, as you can cook meals in the kitchen in your cabin.
On top of that, there’s no end to the facilities and things to do in this resort, making it somewhere you could visit for vacation without even stepping foot in the parks.
Disney Deluxe Resorts $$$
For visitors to Walt Disney World who are looking to enjoy a special vacation for their whole family, you’ll want to consider the Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa resorts. These resorts have all of the amenities you could imagine.
All Deluxe resorts are close to the Disney theme parks. They also all have slides and sit-down restaurants. The sit-down dining options at the Deluxe resorts tend to be more popular than the restaurants at the moderate resorts.
Deluxe Resorts have Extra Magic Hours you can take advantage of. They also have proximity to the parks, which is another perk. Let’s look at each resort by location.
What are the Best Disney World Resorts for a Luxury Vacation?
Any of the Disney Deluxe hotels would be the perfect choice for a luxury vacation. The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is the most luxurious Walt Disney World Hotel.
Deluxe Resorts Near Magic Kingdom Park
What Disney Resort is Closest to Magic Kingdom?
Disney’s Contemporary Resort is the closest resort a short monorail ride or 10 minute walk to Magic Kingdom.
What Hotel has the Easiest Access to Magic Kingdom?
Disney’s Contemporary, Disney’s Polynesian Resort and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa are both on the monorail as well, making them close to Magic Kingdom. Disney’s Fort Wilderness and Disney’s Wilderness Lodge both have a boat you can take to Magic Kingdom putting them close to Magic Kingdom.
Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
If you are looking for the most luxurious accommodation in Walt Disney World, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is our top pick. This resort is within walking distance of the Magic Kingdom but also benefits from the boat and monorail.
The resort can feel a little stuffy for younger children, but they do have some beautiful swimming pools they’ll enjoy. If fine dining is something you are after, you’ll love eating at Narcoossee’s and enjoying the views over to the fireworks after a busy day at the parks.
The spa is also a lovely addition to a stay here and allows you to relax after traipsing around the parks.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort was one of the opening-day resorts. It offers a wide range of accommodation options, including stunning water bungalows with views over to the Magic Kingdom.
This resort does have something for everyone in your party, from young children up to older couples. The dining here is incredible, with ‘Ohana and Kona Café being family favorite restaurants.
Kids will love the feature pool here, whereas adults will enjoy the outdoor bar on offer nearby. The best thing about this resort is its proximity to the Magic Kingdom, thanks to the direct monorail or boat service to the parks.
Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Finally, Disney’s Contemporary Resort and Bay Lake Tower are great options for anyone planning to spend most of their trip in the Magic Kingdom. You can walk directly to the park or hop on the monorail.
California Grill is one of the best restaurants in Walt Disney World, and it’s the perfect place to watch Magic Kingdom fireworks at the end of the night. There is also a viewing deck at the Contemporary Resort as well.
Read More: Disney’s Contemporary Resort
Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
During the winter months, Wilderness Lodge is our favorite resort for a cozy stay in Orlando. You’ll have a great range of accommodation options here, thanks to the addition of the Boulder Ridge Villas and the Copper Creek Villas & Cabins.
The theme here is America’s National Parks, and you’ll love the swimming pool and dining options. Families with kids of all ages will enjoy staying here, and when it’s time to head to the parks, you can hop on a boat to the Magic Kingdom for a scenic journey to start your day.
Deluxe Resorts Near EPCOT and Hollywood Studios
Disney’s Yacht Club Resort & Disney’s Beach Club Resort
The Yacht Club is my favorite Disney Resort and has the best pool on Disney property. For adults who love spending their park time in Epcot, you can’t go wrong with the Yacht Club or Beach Club, which allows you to walk directly into the park’s second entrance or Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
While both resorts have slightly different theming and restaurants to choose from, they both share the largest swimming pool in Walt Disney World. Stormalong Bay is an incredible pool with water slides and plenty of family space.
You’ll struggle to tear the kids away from this pool, as they’ll enjoy it just as much as the parks. We love the wide variety of restaurants here, so you can choose somewhere new to dine each day of your trip.
Disney’s Boardwalk Inn
Located near the Yacht & Beach Club resorts, you’ll enjoy walking to Epcot or Disney’s Hollywood Studios from the BoardWalk. This resort is themed like a seaside boardwalk and has some extensive dining options.
You can choose from standard rooms and larger villas, and guests will appreciate the family-friendly swimming pool and recreation options.
Disney’s Riviera Resort
This is the newest resort in Walt Disney World and offers modern accommodation options. We particularly like the addition of the studios, which are perfect for couples who don’t require so much space.
You’ll be able to hop on the Skyliner to Disney’s Hollywood Studios or Epcot, and you can also walk to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort for more dining options. Ensure you don’t miss the character breakfast at Topolino’s Terrace, which also offers stunning views over the resort.
Deluxe Resorts Near Disney Springs
Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort
Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa is located close to Disney Springs, and you can walk directly to this area from your room. For the ultimate vacation, consider booking a three-bedroom treehouse villa here.
They book up fast, but you’ll find they are one of the most unique vacation accommodation options at Walt Disney World.
Deluxe Resorts Near Animal Kingdom
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge is usually the most affordable resort in this category, but you’ll find the DVC options are good for larger parties as well. The resort is split between two buildings, which include the Jambo House or Kidani Village with its villas.
The theming here is like nowhere else on the property, and you can wake up each morning to view the animals from your balcony. Choose from a standard hotel room or villas with up to three bedrooms for a stay to fit your family’s needs.
The dining here is excellent, too, with Sanaa at Kidani Village and Boma at Jambo House being our top two picks.
Read More: What You Need To Know About Animal Kingdom Lodge
Old Key West Resort
Old Key West Resort is where the Disney Vacation Club first started, and it’s still a very popular resort with people who visit regularly. Accommodation here comes in all shapes and sizes, and you’ll enjoy being able to cook in your own kitchen in some of the larger rooms. It’s a very laid-back and charming resort and great for extended family trips.
What is the Disney Club Level?
Club level adds $150-200 per night to your stay as an additional cost to the resort. Club level gives you added perks like snacks and breakfast during your stay.
If you take full advantage of the food and beverage options during the day, it can be worth it to stay club level.
There are so many resorts to choose from when looking at the Disney Deluxe and Deluxe Villa categories. If none of the resorts we listed above are available or fit your needs, these are the others you can check out. You can’t go wrong with any of these deluxe resorts; they all offer incredible facilities for families and visitors of all ages.
Is It Cheaper To Stay Off Property At Disney World?
There are many nearby off property hotels that can save you money on your Disney World vacations if a Disney resort is not in your budget. Be aware that you will not get the same free transportation perks or other perks like Early Entry.
What are the Best Disney World Resorts for Using Hotel Points?
Walt Disney World Swan, Walt Disney World Dolphin, and Walt Disney World Swan Reserve are the best resorts for using Marriott points. You can use points and status at this resort while also enjoying many on property perks and close proximity to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios.
A great way to use Marriott Bonvoy points at Walt Disney World is to stay at Disney’s Swan and Dolphin Resort. The Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin is technically not considered Disney property, though it shares most of the on-property perks.
The Swan & Dolphin and the new Swan Reserve are all considered Deluxe Disney Hotels even though they are Marriott-owned and operated. Enjoy Early Entry, Extra Magic Hours, and Dining Reservations at the Swan & Dolphin.
You can walk to EPCOT and Hollywood Studios or take the friendship boats. This is the best option for an off-property resort. The only difference is that the buses, magic band room entry, and charging to the room from your magic band can’t be used at this resort.
Choosing a Walt Disney World resort is a very personal decision. It comes down to considering your family’s budget and needs for your next vacation.
You’ll find excellent resort options in every category, and wherever you stay, you’ll have a vacation to remember. If you can afford to upgrade to the deluxe resorts, we highly recommend doing this for your next trip.
The accommodation in these resorts is excellent and provides you with everything you can imagine. Of course, if you want to spend every minute of your day in the theme parks, it might not be worth spending extra on your room.
Think about the additional dining reservations or unique experiences you could add on instead and find a resort that fits your family’s needs for the time you are visiting.
When planning a Walt Disney World vacation, we recommend booking your resort immediately. The resorts on the property all get booked up very quickly, so if you have one in mind for your next trip, think about making your reservation as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
Can you stay at a Disney resort without going to the parks?
Yes, you can stay at a Disney resort and not visit the theme parks. There are plenty of things to do without park tickets around Disney and the surrounding area.
What perks are there for staying on Disney property?
There are many perks to staying on property at Disney World. These include Early Entry (Rope Drop), Extra Magic Hours for Deluxe resorts, making dining reservations for your whole trip 60 days out, Disney transportation, and Disney Dining plans.
Can you use Disney transportation if staying off-property?
Yes, you can use Disney transportation if you stay off the property. You can use the Skyliner, Monorail, Boats, and Buses to resorts without staying on property.
How do I make my first Disney trip special?
Make sure to get a first-time Disney button on your first trip! You can also consider capturing the moment and memory maker for special keepsake photos of your first trip.
Does it matter where you stay at Disney?
There is no bad choice when you stay on Disney property. There are also several great choices off property as well.
Is Disney’s early entry worth it?
Yes! Early Entry is the best perk for staying on property at Walt Disney World Resort Hotels. Take advantage of the low crowds and short lines during Early Entry and avoid paying extra for Genie+ or Individual Lightning Lanes.
What is the best Disney World resort?
This depends on personal preference, budget, and needs for you. My personal favorite is Disney’s Yacht Club.
Is it better to stay in Disney hotel or in Orlando?
There are many perks with staying on Disney property which make Disney hotels the better option. If Disney hotels are out of your budget than there are some great off property options.
What is the best length of stay at Disney World?
The best length for a Disney trip is 7 days. This allows you to visit all four parks, the water parks, and have rest days to enjoy your resort and Disney Springs.